Thursday, February 02, 2012

Mitt Steps in It

"At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,'' said the gentleman, taking up a pen, ``it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.''
"Are there no prisons?'' asked Scrooge.
"Plenty of prisons,'' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
"And the Union workhouses?'' demanded Scrooge. ``Are they still in operation?''
"They are. Still,'' returned the gentleman, `` I wish I could say they were not.''
"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?'' said Scrooge.
"Both very busy, sir.''
"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,'' said Scrooge. ``I'm very glad to hear it.'' - From "A Christmas Carol" - Charles Dickens

Yesterday, after celebrating a thorough shellacking of Newt Gingrich in the Florida GOP Primary,  Mitt had another episode of "Foot in Mouth" disease.  On an interview with Soledad O'Brien, Mr. Romney stepped off in something very smelly by uttering the phrase "I'm not concerned about the very poor...".  Now to be fair, in the entire context of the conversation, Mr. Romney was attempting to make a point that he wasn't looking at the edges (very rich or very poor), he was looking at the middle class, who he claims quite correctly has suffered from the devastating economic situation our country has found itself in. 

What boggles my mind is how a candidate, and obviously well read and very educated candidate can be so obtuse.  I'd like to know meet his handlers and advisers because they are probably drinking themselves silly with all the foolish things this man says.  It is highly likely that Mr. Romney will be the GOP nominee.  It is highly doubtful that, if he is indeed the GOP's standard bearer that he will survive a contest with the President.  Especially if he continues to utter idiotic phrases like he did yesterday.

I do not believe Mr. Romney is as hard hearted as Mr. Scrooge. I think he is a man of some compassion. I think however, statements like he makes indicate just how out of touch he is with the general population in this country.  He's not worried about the very poor because they have a "safety net"?  Really?  The issue is not whether or not they have a safety net, the issue is why are they poor?

According to the US Census Bureau we have a significant problem with poverty in this country.

Some data for your consideration: (source, US Census Bureau)

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States: 2010 - Highlights

The data presented here are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2011 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC), the source of official poverty estimates. The CPS ASEC is a sample survey of approximately 100,000 household nationwide. These data reflect conditions in calendar year 2010.
  • The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent — up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent.
  • In 2010, 46.2 million people were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009—the fourth consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty.
  • Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (from 9.4 percent to 9.9 percent), for Blacks (from 25.8 percent to 27.4 percent), and for Hispanics (from 25.3 percent to 26.6 percent). For Asians, the 2010 poverty rate (12.1 percent) was not statistically different from the 2009 poverty rate.1
  • The poverty rate in 2010 (15.1 percent) was the highest poverty rate since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available.
  • The number of people in poverty in 2010 (46.2 million) is the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
  • Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for children under age 18 (from 20.7 percent to 22.0 percent) and people aged 18 to 64 (from 12.9 percent to 13.7 percent), but was not statistically different for people aged 65 and older (9.0 percent).2
46 million people are at or below the poverty line in this country.  As a comparison, that is about 13 million more  people than the entire population of Canada and more than twice the population of Australia.  Since the War on Poverty which began in the Johnson administration in 1965, we have been keeping statistics on poverty as a percentage of the population and the numbers are not encouraging.  When the legislation was passed in 1965, the poverty rate was around 19%, down from 22% in 1959, but nonetheless still high.  In 1965, 19% poverty meant about 28-30 million people at or below the poverty line.  Today, we sit around 15% or so, with as stated before about 46 million people in poverty and it is getting worse.  The "Safety Nets" as Mr. Romney refers to them are programs such as Medicaid, CHIPS, etc and typically these are funded through some federal money and some state money.  As we all know, the budgets within the states and in the federal government are in terrible shape, so the safety net is not quite so safe. 
Mr. Romney's blindness to the impacts of his statements on the general voting population is staggering.  I used to think the President would have a tough time getting reelected.  After watching and listening to the presumptive nominee from the GOP, I think Mr. Obama returns to the Oval Office in 2013.
I'd like to hear from you on your impressions of Mr. Romney.  I know I'm biased as I don't intend to vote for the guy anyway, but would like to get some perspective on what Republicans and Independents think about this guy and his recent statements.


Tell me what you think.

Regards,
Dennis

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